The FBI has arrested 13 men who are alleged to be planning to kidnap the Michigan state governor, investigators said Thursday. The alleged target, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, has come under fire from right-wing protesters for her corona measures. She accuses US President Donald Trump of encouraging these kinds of extremist groups.
Group wanted to commit coup in Michigan
Six of the thirteen men have been plotting to kidnap Whitmer in the run-up to the presidential election since the summer. Among other things, they trained with weapons, made explosives and supervised the governor’s vacation home in August, the FBI said. They have been arrested for conspiring to kidnap, an indictment for which they can face life in prison.
The seven other men were arrested for, among other things, supporting terrorist activities, mapping addresses of police officers and threatening violence with the aim of starting a civil war. These seven are members of the so-called Wolverine Watchmen militia group.
The FBI tracked down the suspects through social media and the interception of encrypted messages. Undercover agents and informers have also been deployed in the investigation, according to the federal police and investigation service. It is not clear when they were arrested.
According to the FBI, the suspects wanted to rally people for “acts of violence” against local governments that they believe violated the US Constitution.
Part of the plan was originally to contact US militias, paramilitary groups that often harbor anti-government sentiments. With about 200 militiamen, the group wanted to storm the Michigan government building and sue the governor for high treason. They later decided to abandon that plan and kidnap Whitmer at her vacation home.
Whitmer says Trump is complicit in the group’s plans. Among other things, she refers to recent statements by Trump during the debate with presidential candidate Joe Biden. When asked, Trump seemed here to refuse to denounce racist groups. He also asked the neo-facist group Proud Boys to be “ready”.
“When our leaders meet, befriend and encourage domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions and are complicit,” the governor said of Trump.
Right-wing protesters, Republican politicians and Trump are vehemently against the corona measures Whitmer has instituted in Michigan. In the state of nearly ten million inhabitants, some 145,000 people have been infected and more than 7,000 have died.
Last April, thousands of protesters marched against Whitmer to the government building, many of them armed with semi-automatic rifles. Trump then encouraged them by saying “RELEASE MICHIGAN.” tweeting.